The 2015 Pirelli World Challenge Season has Started: Circuit of the Americas
The weekend of March 7th and 8th at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) not only kicked-off the 2015 season of the Pirelli World Challenge, but also marked many new beginnings for Capaldi Racing. This was the first event that Capaldi Racing’s three new drivers (Dan Martinson, Nick Esayian, and Jack Roush Jr.) competed in under the Capaldi banner. It was also the first time that Nick and Dan have competed in Ford Mustangs.
The weather leading up to the event was cold, and freezing rain covered the track with ice on Wednesday night prior to the first day of testing, which meant that the track jet dryers had to be sent out in the morning to melt the ice.
“The weather was somewhat of a challenge leading up to the race weekend, as we weren’t able to get a completely accurate feel for where the balance of the cars would be,” says Leo Capaldi. “This was made more challenging given the lack of available track days for testing due to weather this past winter. However, the team did a great job in reacting with the information they had to make our cars fast.”
The race weekend consisted of two races, one each on Saturday and Sunday. Qualifying took place early Saturday morning with team results as follows: Jack Roush Jr. in 11th, Dan Martinson in 13th, and Nick Esayian in 18th. Each of the team drivers had moved up by the end of the first race, with Jack finishing 9th, Dan 11th, and Nick 14th. Both Nick and Jack improved their positions once again for the Sunday race, with Nick finishing 12th and Jack in 5th, and Jack set the fastest lap in a Mustang for the race with a lap time of 2:32.67 and the third fastest lap overall that race. Unfortunately, Dan was called in to do a drive-through penalty during the race, which hurt his chances of moving up the field.
“I was excited to fire up the season at COTA with my new teammates,” says Nick Esayian, driver of the No. 34 TravelClean Mustang. “Unfortunately we didn’t have cooperative weather in the run up to test some of the new goodies Leo and company had prepared for us, so the learning curve was steep for me. That said, the car is fantastic, and I think using what we learned this weekend, we will be contenders in St. Pete.”
“The starts were crazy as usual. I stayed out of trouble, took the points I could, and will move to St. Pete with a trove of new info,” Nick continues. “The team has a good synergy already, and certainly the crew is as good as any I have worked with. Always looking for the incremental gain after each session. When you look at the GT and GTS fields, it is a pretty amazing field of cars and drivers, and I am proud to be a part of it.”
Dan Martinson, driver of the No. 33 Gear Tie Racing Mustang, shares his thoughts on the event: “The Capaldi guys did a great job of getting the car ready for COTA and ran a tight ship all weekend. Everybody was great to work with . . . including my friendly competitors Nick and Jack. Couldn’t have asked for a better group to hang out with all season.
“I was pretty happy with my finish in race one given the fact that it was my first time in a Mustang. The learning curve was a lot steeper than I expected. If we can get the brakes dialed in and get a test day before St. Pete, we should be competitive. Overall, I love the series. Can’t wait for the next race.”
And finally, Jack Roush Jr., driver of the No. 60 ROUSH Performance Mustang, adds his own comments about the race at COTA: “I would first of all like to thank the team for a great first outing. Leo has assembled a top-quality group of guys. I’m also very thankful to have some of the team members from my team that have transitioned over with me. It was great working with my new teammates, Nick Esayain and Dan Martinson.”
Jack continues: “A top ten finish was not a bad way to start the season, but obviously, we are aimed at the front, and that’s where we are heading looking at our P5 finish and battle for P3 at the end of the second race.”